The Mystery of Prime Numbers (The Music of the Primes)

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The Music of the Primes
Marcus du Sautoy, Oxford University
Thursday, May 8, 2008, at 6:00 pm

MIT, Compton Laboratories
Building 26, Room 26-100
Access via 60 Vassar Street

Marcus du Sautoy, author of the The Music of the Primes, will discuss the mystery of prime numbers, the history behind the Riemann hypothesis and the ongoing quest to solve it.

Why did Beckham choose the number 23 shirt? How is 17 the key to the evolutionary survival of a strange species of cicada? Prime numbers are the atoms of arithmetic -- the hydrogen and oxygen of the world of numbers. Despite their fundamental importance to mathematics, they represent one of the most tantalizing enigmas in the pursuit of human knowledge. In 1859, the German mathematician Bernhard Riemann put forward an idea -- a hypothesis -- that seemed to reveal a magical harmony at work in the numerical landscape. A million dollars now await the person who can unravel the mystery of the hidden music that might explain the cacophony of the primes.

Marcus du Sautoy is Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Wadham College. He is author of numerous academic articles and books on mathematics. He has been a visiting Professor at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris, the Max Planck Institute in Bonn, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Australian National University in Canberra.

Marcus du Sautoy is author of the best-selling popular mathematics book The Music of the Primes published by Fourth Estate in 2003 and translated into 10 languages. It has won two major prizes in Italy and Germany for the best popular science book of the year. His new book Finding Moonshine: A Mathematician's Journey Through Symmetry is also published by Fourth Estate and was released in March 2008.

Thanks to the MIT Mathematics Department for hosting this event.